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    Doyen of the Brussels 20K is André Jassogne aged 89

    Around 40,000 runners will take part this Sunday in the Brussels 20K race. Of the 51 registered, who have run in the previous 38 annual races, the so-called “doyen” is one André Jassogne (aged 89). He was born on February 7th, 1928.
    If he finishes this race, he does not think that he will rerun it next year. Raymond Rasquin, born on November 21st, 1928, does not think that he personally will give up the quest.

    Jassogne used to work for STIB. Fond of sports from childhood, for a long time he played basketball. After a long period in one particular match, during which he remained on the bench the whole time, he thought that it was time to give up team sports.

    He did his first race aged 52, wearing his basketball shoes. It was the first Brussels 20K race, with had more than 4,000 participants.

    This new race started and finished in the Heysel Plateau, with a single opportunity for runners to refuel in the Parc du Cinquantenaire.

    André Jassogne finished the course in a little over two hours, and he suffered so badly with stiff joints that this made him realise that every sport required training. Today, he still continues to do 12 to 13 kilometres every Sunday.

    André Jassogne says, “My personal best is one hour twenty-six minutes, which is a good average time. Between the ages of 60 and 70 I had my best times. I have done other courses in the past and have completed the Brussels Marathon four times in reasonable times, less than three and a half hours.”

    He goes on, “I completed my last marathon in 1992. For four or five years the 20K race has, all the same, become increasingly difficult for me. Last year, I completed it in three hours and twenty-six minutes alternating the running with periods of walking. I think this year I will physically run even less. If I don’t pull it off, I will give up the race part way through. I think that this may be my last year.”

    He says that the effort put in by the race organisers is remarkable.

    André Jassogne also mentions, “There is an extraordinary atmosphere at the 20K race. This is because it includes all nationalities, social categories and ages. There is often the chance to chat with a competitor about your memories of past races.”

    He goes on, “I remember one storm which prevented us from going through the Bois de la Cambre during which time the organisers, in conjunction with the police, had to alter the route. I have run the 20K in all weathers: storms, thunderstorms, rain and even extreme heat as, unfortunately, is forecast for this Sunday. All of these are the worst possible race conditions.”

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times